What is Alternative Licensing?

As new forms of publication and scholarship begin to take hold, the academic world is examining standard forms of licensing and rights management and finding them lacking. While current copyright and intellectual property laws focus on restricting use of materials, authors are beginning to explore new models that center on enabling use while still protecting the academic value of a publication. Some rights are still reserved, but some are proactively licensed at publication time to encourage re-use. These approaches make it clear which rights are licensed for various uses, removing the barrier of copyright and smoothing the way for others to access and use one’s work. One such approach is that taken by Creative Commons, an organization that supplies easy-to-understand, “some rights reserved” licenses for creative work. Authors simply review the list of rights they can grant or restrict, make their choices, and receive a link to a written license that spells out how their work may be used. The licenses work within current copyright laws but clearly state how a work may be used. Copyleft is another alternative approach; often used in open source software development, copyleft describes how work can be used and also governs how derivative works are to be licensed as well. Models like these are beginning to gain acceptance among artists, photographers, and musicians; scholarly papers and reports are increasingly released under alternative licenses. Some organizations, such as the New Media Consortium, have made it a policy to release all their work under licenses that facilitate sharing and reuse.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Alternative licensing is a major driver of sharable content -- knowing the rights ahead of time make it much easier to reuse, adapt, or build upon existing work -- this is as true of research as it is in music.- Larry Larry Aug 23, 2010
  • With students increasingly being content generators it's as vital (if not more so) to support them to operate effectively as content 'owners' and to manage their online assets as it is as 'consumers' in this regard - robyn.jay robyn.jay Aug 23, 2010
  • I guess the technology here is when the licensing model is expressed more actively within the experience. At the moment most of us experience this as the Region Controls that prevent/restrict some content from being used in some countries. Many educators depend on exceptions in the main copyright law that enable educational uses, if alternate licenses become more common it is possible that these exceptions will no longer be applicable. I can see various content owners developing forms of license technology that restrict use of material in ways that are educationally useful - imagine marketing classes that couldn't use current sales material critically die to embedded license systems. More generally, I think the various open licenses do offer the potential for increasing reuse of learning materials by making more explicit the desire of creators for their work to be reused and changed by others - more like the current systems of citation and criticism used in the research literature. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 24, 2010
  • very few teachers/lecturers are aware of alternative approaches to copyright such as CC. As people become aware of the growing body of CC content it becomes easier to create course materials. And as they become users of CC content many will make the progression to contributing their own content licensed under CC. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Aug 31, 2010
  • Agree Michael but while teachers are increasingly using CC material - such as FlickR images (and it's touted as alternative to copyright process nightmares) VERY few give back - robyn.jay robyn.jay Aug 31, 2010
  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • There is a close and enabling link between alternative licensing and open content.- Larry Larry Aug 23, 2010
  • Digital Rights Management, licensing models that result in content being modified without the ability to stop the modification. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 24, 2010
  • Content management and license interaction/aggregation are also related to this -- how well licenses are stored with the different types of creative content that people gather while online, so that when they create derivative works they can manage the resultant works' complex licence requirements properly. - ralf.muhlberger ralf.muhlberger Sep 1, 2010
  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • it is vital that we help students to understand the value of intellectual property, of proper attribution, etc. Alternative licensing allows these ideas to be explored in a context that ENCOURAGES use, as opposed to a focus on copyright, which focuses on penalites. The key is to help students see both sides -- and in today's fast paced world, we need to be sharing more as a simple strategy for productivity.- Larry Larry Aug 23, 2010
  • Potentially, I think it could promote genuinely useful reuse - rather than "learning objects" - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Aug 24, 2010
  • In addition to helping students understand the value of alternative licensing, it's important to help content producers (of all kinds of content) understand and consider alternative licensing when they post/publish/release their materials. - ninmah ninmah Aug 24, 2010
  • people who make use of CC materials will increasingly become aware that learning materials that have been created by individuals, not organisations, with the attendant further 'world flattening' and less reliance on formal channels. It too may have the effect of people realising that they can create their own content (students and teachers) that can be legitimised by CC licensing. - michael.coughlan michael.coughlan Aug 31, 2010
  • I agree with others about the use of these in teaching students about the complex issues of ownership and intellectual property of new media creations. I've used CC license generation as part of assignments for years, and generally have had very good feedback from students concerning it. - ralf.muhlberger ralf.muhlberger Sep 1, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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